Jan. 10, 2012
University of Iowa offering roommate matching for new students
Members of the University of Iowa's Class of 2016 are finding a new perk to living on campus when they apply for housing this year: the option to use roommate-matching software to search for a bunkmate whose lifestyle matches their own.
The software's online questionnaire asks students to answer a series of lifestyle questions covering issues such as whether they are OK with sharing food and clothes, their study habits, and how warm or cool they like their room to be. Students then create a profile featuring their answers to their questions, along with a brief description they've written about themselves.
Students can then search through other profiles, see what percentage of their answers match, and contact students who look like a good fit. They can then request to live together.
"I've been calling it Match.com for roommates," says Ryan Cohenour, assistant director for contracts and assignments in UI Housing & Dining.
The feature is built into the online housing application for all new incoming students. Students will still have the options to request a roommate that they already know or to skip the roommate match and let the university assign them a roommate based on preferred room type.
The hope, say University Housing and Dining officials, is that students will choose roommates whose lifestyles mesh with their own in order to cut down on conflicts and give students a greater incentive to find solutions when problems do arise.
"We've found that when students chose a roommate or roommates themselves, they are more invested in that relationship and have more desire to make it work," Cohenour says.
Cohenour talked with resident assistants (RAs) about common roommate conflict issues and interviewed more than 200 first-year students to create pertinent profile questions for the roommate search. Of course, it's not possible for the university to cover every topic in an online questionnaire, so students are encouraged to talk with potential roommates about other issues that are important to them before submitting a roommate request.
The roommate match option is open only to new incoming students. Returning students, however, will be able to select the exact residence hall room they want to live in when they reapply for housing. Both options are features of new software implemented by University Housing and Dining. The system, StarRez, also helps the university manage housing applications and assignments, correspondence, billing, and other administrative tasks.
"One of the great things about the new software is it allows us to do everything electronically, so there's no paper waste," says Tiffany Bentrim, marketing coordinator for University Housing & Dining.
In addition to the optional roommate-match, new students applying for on-campus housing will select what type of room the want and which campus neighborhood they prefer —- east side (Burge, Daum, Currier, and Stanley residence halls), west side (Hillcrest, Quadrangle, Rienow, and Slater residence halls), suites and apartments (Mayflower and Parklawn residence halls), or, for returning and transfer students, University-leased off-campus apartments such as Building 3 at Hawk Ridge and Centerstone.
Also, students will still have the option to request a living-learning community or quiet house floor.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500
MEDIA CONTACTS: Ryan Cohenour, assistant director for contracts and assignments, UI Housing & Dining, 319-335-3000, firstname.lastname@example.org; Anne Kapler, University Communication and Marketing, 319-384-0043, email@example.com